Friday, August 19, 2011

Belted Kingfishers on the Great Miami River

Belted Kingfishers are river birds, so it's no surprise I'd see a few while canoeing, but on the Great Miami River last Saturday I saw a lot--many more than I usually see along the Little Miami River, but even though they were always near us, flying around and vocalizing, I'm convinced their maniacal laughter was nothing more than taunting, and they were laughing at me in the most devious way, knowing I'd never get a crisp photo of them as they whizzed past and stayed just out of range...

...a male Belted Kingfisher surveys the water from a dead snag along the Great Miami River.

...a female Belted Kingfisher flies past us as we canoe down the river. Belted Kingfishers are one of the few birds where the female is more colorful than the male. She has an extra "belt" of rufous or rusty orange around her middle. The males just have one dark belt around their chests.

...sometimes Belted Kingfishers are described as being a drab slate blue, but when they spread their tail feathers, those white bars and spots are anything but drab...

I can still hear that bird laughing as he whipped past us...taunting, I tell you...taunting!

...a male and female Belted Kingfisher sit together along the Great Miami River in a dead and downed tree. Belted Kingfishers form pair bonds and are monogamous. Males defend their territory with vigor. Shortly after I snapped this photo, the male chased off an interloper vocalizing and battling on the wing.

Belted Kingfishers are such interesting birds, and I see or hear one every time I walk my patch along the Little Miami River, but after all this time I've never seen a nesting site. Maybe it's because Belted Kingfishers make tunnel nests in the riverbank, which are a little hard to see from a trail. They burrow into the vertical walls of dirt that edge the river, forming tunnels from two to ten feet. While canoeing the Great Miami River, I saw lots of Bank Swallow holes in the vertical dirt walls along the river and wondered if the Belted Kingfisher's nesting hole looked similar. I didn't see any of the kingfishers flying into any of the holes, but it's probably too late in the season anyway. Next spring I'd like to get out on the Great Miami and see if I can find a kingfisher's nesting tunnel.

27 comments:

Montanagirl said...

Nice photos, Kelly, despite that they were being uncooperative. I have yet to get a decent Kingfisher shot. Don't see them much around here.

TexWisGirl said...

we get a few around here as well, and they're extremely maddening! :) you did great!

forgetmenot said...

The Kingfishers didn't seem to want to "stop and pose" for you. Great shots anyway. Love the turtles in the previous post. One can always learn so much from visiting your blog. You are sooooo knowledgeable in so many areas, and with your photos and comments, it is a most interesting way to "learn a little more" about nature. Have a lovely weekend. Mickie :)

Laure Ferlita said...

Girl, I'd say you did pretty good considering how fast those birds fly!! Excellent job!

Lois Evensen said...

It's amazing what I see through your camera lens right here in my own back yard. Wonderful images!

Birding is Fun! said...

Canoeing! So that's the way to get some better close-ups.

NCmountainwoman said...

Fantastic photographs of these camera shy birds. I just love them and have tried (unsuccessfully) on many occasions to get a good photo. At least I can enjoy yours.

Elaine said...

I have heard birds laughing at me too....

Bob Bushell said...

Brilliant photos.

Sue said...

Well I think you did a great job capturing them--I think they met their match!

eileeninmd said...

So, that is where they all are. I've missed seeing them lately. Great photos.

grammie g said...

HI Kelly ...I loved canoeing,but without someone to go with an get that thing in the water well...

Sure is a pretty bird and the iformation on the nesting is very interesting!!

Out on the prairie said...

I love these birds. I have sat out trying to get a closer shot many times of these.Carole at Country Mouse Studios has a nice image she painted.

Wanda..... said...

I've never seen a Kingfisher to even try getting a photo...it's the little Wood Thrush that laughs at me!

KAT said...

great post about the kings...so informative every time I visit your site Thanks
KAT

Caroline said...

Kingfishers are such beautiful birds - beautiful shots!

Warren Baker said...

Kelly if those Kingfishers move as fast as the ones here, you did very well to get that flight shot !!

Janice K said...

I think they are such neat looking birds, and your pictures were great...not the poses you usually see.

Hilke Breder said...

Enjoyed the post, Kelly. Here is a link that shows a BK burrow. The opening is much larger than those of the Bank Swallows.
http://tinyurl.com/3zb6y4z

Carol Mattingly said...

Kelly I've never seen a Kingfisher. OMG! I'm going to have to do some investigating up your way soon. Carol

holdingmoments said...

It seems you see so much more from that canoe. A great way to see the river life.

BirdingMaine said...

Very nice photo series Kelly! When you look for the tunnel nest next spring, be careful as they will come after you if you get too close. Last summer while kayaking in a narrow tributary, I inadvertently passed near a nest tunnel and the Kingfisher was immediately swooping over my head and chattering. I had no idea that the tunnel was there.

Chris said...

Beautiful pictures of a bird I would love to see one day! Let's hope one will loose its way to Iceland one day....

Brian said...

Great photos of such a skiddish bird!

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone!! It sounds like we all have the same problem....how can we get that bird to come in close and pose? One of these days he or she will cooperate.......

Kathiesbirds said...

I am amazed you were even able to get these shots as they always seem to fly away fast whenever I even try to focus on one!

Roy said...

What fabulous colouring.